Desolate explores the duality of solitude by using noise and painterly shaders to create a refined aesthetic. The collection utilizes a monolithic mound as a focal point, evoking the feeling of solitude. This emotion can be expressed in two distinct ways: either being alone without the support of others or being alone in a state of relaxation.
Inspirations for Desolate
Desolate started out as an exploration from a piece I did called “Sweeping” over on fx(hash). The original focus was on composition, and trying to find a focal point. This focal point ended up becoming the monolithic mound that is there now. It started out much more flat as you can see here:
As time went on I felt the piece needed an identity, a meaning. And I found one in solitude. The feeling of solitude can go both ways, either alone without the support of others, or alone in a state of relaxation, not lonely, simply enjoying being alone. It’s a feeling that I personally can relate with as well, which is probably why it was such an easy option for me to go with.
The paint spread shader
My personal favorite aspect of this piece is the final step, where I employ a custom GLSL shader that I've been developing. It simulates the spreading of pigments on the canvas, creating a liquid paint effect. I believe this technique is truly starting to define me as an artist.
To grasp this feature, a basic understanding of shaders is required. Instead of drawing shapes, shaders are more like puzzles. They provide pixel coordinates (uv's) and your task is to determine the color for each pixel.
The final pass works by taking the coordinate and moving it along a noise field determined by its location, this creates unified movement in the paint. Once it reaches a new location, it retrieves the color of the pixel on the screen at that particular point and blends it with the previous color from before. This process occurs simultaneously for all pixels on the screen. After approximately 15 passes, the final result is achieved.
The monolith is the center of a massive circular piece of terrain. It might not look like it, but it is! The way the terrain works in Desolate is that it starts at the center of the terrain, with the highest vertical position, and based on an exponential curve it starts to go down and farther away from the center. This creates the monolith. After it has reached a certain point, it will switch over from that exponential curve to a noise based one, creating a more natural, mountainous terrain.
For the coloring I use a method that I learned from fellow generative artist Chris Mccully. I use a black and white “lightmap” that paints the scene in black and white. Afterwards I read these grayscale values and map those to a palette, where each color in the palette gets its own range of brightness where it gets picked up. This way I am creating a natural spectrum of color using my own palettes.
Another important part of the coloring process is the way I arrange the sequence of colors on my spectrums. I found that with the 3-dimensional nature of the piece I needed to really show the shadows and highlights, which was not possible by taking sequencing random colors from a palette. I found out that sorting the colors based on their hue makes sure the contrast between the lighter and darker areas of the composition keep their distance! This made a huge difference in the final color pass.
The final result
After about 6 months of on and off work, I finally finished Desolate. I am very happy with the result, and excited to see the collection minted. If you want to mint one, you can find the minting page over on GEN.ART. Minting will go live on the 16th of June, 2023 at 8:00 PM CET. Planning to make signed prints available as well, so keep an eye out for that!
Here's a couple of my favorite outputs from the algorithm: